One year after winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the UT Arlington Lady Mavericks found themselves in a new conference.
And year one in the WAC had its fair share of ups and downs, ultimately resulting in a mid-pack finish and early exit from Las Vegas in conference tournament play. There were near upsets over both Kansas and 18th-ranked Oklahoma. The Lady Mavs were the first team to hand fellow newcomer Southern Utah a loss in WAC play. Behind WAC Player of the Year Starr Jacobs’ monster 24-point, 21-rebound game, the Lady Mavs knocked off GCU in Phoenix.
But, things came up short in the WAC Tournament as the 6th-seeded Lady Mavs couldn’t slow down 11-seed Seattle U.
The offseason looked like it was going to be a solid one. Starr Jacobs had announced she was coming back for another season. Then, head coach Shereka Wright went out and got Seattle U sharpshooter Taliyah Clark along with SFA forward Avery Brittingham. In all reality, UT Arlington looked like it would be one of the favorites to win the WAC.
Then, on Aug. 7, out of the blue, Starr Jacobs announced she was entering the portal. Ultimately, Jacobs ended up at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
— WACHoopsNation (@WACHoopsNation) August 7, 2023
So, where does that leave the Lady Mavs? With Clark and Brittingham, the Lady Mavs have two experienced players in the WAC. Can the other newcomers/returners jump on board?
We take a look at the ’23-’24 Lady Mavs here.
Shereka Wright, 4th Season
14-17 Overall/8-10 WAC
47-32 Overall/30-18 Conference
Lost in first round of WAC tournament to Seattle
- Kali Haizlip – 5’9, Sophomore, G – College of Southern Idaho
- Masengo Mutanda – 5’7, Graduate, G – Jacksonville State
- Avery Brittingham – 6’1, Senior, F – Stephen F. Austin
- Gia Adams – 5’7, Junior, G – Tennessee State
- Miraya Perkins – 5’11, Freshman, G
- Aubrey Reid – 5’11, Freshman, G
- Hannah Humphrey – 5’8, Junior, G – Blinn College
- Adela Valkova – 6’2, Graduate, F – UTEP
- Keiori Lee – 5’9, Senior, G – Moberly Area Community College
- Starr Jacobs
- Jireh Washington
- Taleyah Jones
- De’Sha Benjamin
- Kayla White
- Shyia Smith
We all know about the accomplishments of Brittingham and Clark. However, this is a really solid class from top to bottom.
Adams averaged 13.4 PPG in two seasons with Tennessee State for a program that won about a third of their games while she was there. Wright added a lot of proficiency from beyond the arc in Haizlip who was a 36 percent 3-point shooter at the JUCO level and Masengo Mutanda shot 32 percent from the perimeter last year at Jacksonville State.
Hannah Humphrey was another 35 percent 3-point shooter at the JUCO level who averaged 12.3 points and was a First Team All-Region pick by NJCCAA coaches. Aubrey Reid was a top-30 HS player in the state of Texas according to recruiting services.
Adela Valkova was a double digit scorer in two of her three seasons at the JUCO level before spending last year at UTEP where she entered 15 games, averaging three minutes per game. Miraya Perkins averaged 15 points per game, almost seven rebounds per game and shot 36 percent from 3-point range as a HS junior. Keiori Lee was part of a pair of NJCCAA tournament appearances while at Moberly Area Community College and averaged double digit scoring while shooting 32 percent from 3-point range in her career.
Obviously there was a lot to do in recruiting for the UT Arlington staff this offseason with these losses who had a significant amount of collegiate experience including Jacobs and back to back Player of the Year honors. White was the top three point shooting threat and team’s second leading scorer while Washington was third and the duo combined to averaged 26.6 points per game. In total UT Arlington has to replace 67.9 points per game from last year which might be one of the higher totals nationwide in terms of scoring not returning from last year.
In the WAC/CUSA Alliance, UTA plays at home against New Mexico State and at Jacksonville State. Both matchups occur in the two weeks before the New Year.
Wright also was able to get power level games with South Florida, Colorado and Texas along with mid-major matchups against Lamar, UTSA, and Sam Houston. They’ll visit Moraga over Thanksgiving for the St. Mary’s Tournament before opening WAC play with Abilene Christian and Grand Canyon.